In the early ’70s, Boston-area resident Mike Farny dreamed of creating affordable outdoor recreational activities for his community to enjoy. In May of 1973, Mike set up shop in the MDC Norumbega Police Substation of Newton/Auburndale and began realizing his dream. The location—directly next to the historic Totem Pole Ballroom—perfectly enabled the environmentally friendly practice of canoeing and kayaking. Mike's vision blossomed over the years to include four other locations, each offering rentals, tours, and instruction.
Today, on-staff guides lead tours of the Charles River and Boston Harbor to educate participants in ecosystem conservation, view the skyline and sunset, or explore historic structures. Select trips also include lunch to fuel participants as they navigate difficult waterways and jump through flaming hoops. To prepare customers entering the water for the first time, instructors coach riders of all levels in private or group lessons at the paddling school, which draws on more than 30 years of instructional tradition. Team members also organize paddlers with sufficient experience to compete in Run on the Charles, an annual canoe and kayak race down the river. Staffers can also equip boaters in the shop—where Tiderace and Boréal kayaks hang alongside Tahoe paddleboards and Wenonah canoes, dreaming of one day being the inspiration for a traditional sea chantey. Crew members help clients choose from this selection of new rides and accessories through free daily demonstrations.
From their home base in the Warren Building, officials of the Wellesley Recreation Department fine-tune a year-round roster of sports leagues and community classes. Adults master crafts that range from pottery throwing to Capoeira, a blend of Brazilian martial arts and dance. Kids channel their creativity into painting courses or the Star Wars: Jedi Training class, which often includes creating a recycled droid and lightsaber lessons with retired stormtroopers. All of the programs are self-supporting, so directors charge reasonable fees and divvy up the money among materials, instructors' salaries, and other necessary expenses.
During the summer, throngs of people advance on Morses Pond, an ocean lookalike complete with a sandy beach, water slide, and volleyball nets, and kids aged 5–12 fend off boredom with summer day camps. Meanwhile, the lights of Hunnewell Tennis Court blaze into the evening hours, allowing athletes to face off after dark when the sun is taking its nap.
Since its inception as a nonprofit organization in 1985, Community Rowing Inc. has guided more than 15,000 students in invigorating rowing sessions held on the Charles River. Their experienced staff of Olympians and coaches helps students to become familiar with industry-standard boats and rowing machines through comprehensive introductory lessons and extended handshakes with the rowing arms. After gleaning the skills necessary to properly use equipment, students gain access to locker rooms, training areas, and any additional courses on the Charles River. The full-body, calorie-burning workouts are available throughout the week, allowing students to learn essential techniques such as sweeping, sculling, and dealing peacefully with the water road rage of aggressive gondoliers.
Boating in Boston drops anchor at seven area locations—including local lakes, ponds, and Boston Harbor—helping visitors to undertake watery adventures with a fleet of more than 200 canoes, kayaks, sailboats, pedal boats, and paddleboards. Whether navigating the gentle eddies of Stoneham's Spot Pond or searching for the feral water-polo team rumored to inhabit Wakefield's Lake Quannapowitt, visitors can hit the water untrained or gain new proficiency with solo or group lessons. The crew of instructors also instills a love of boating in the littlest buccaneers with youth summer camps that teach basic skills and safety.
After winding its way past Foxborough and Mansfield, the Rumford River gurgles to a brief rest in the Norton Reservoir where 530 acres of shallow waters ebb around coves and a small cluster of islands. Amid the bald eagles and ospreys that frequent the reservoir's edges, the instructors of the Norton Kayak Company lead kayaking and fishing expeditions from May 1 to October 31. Whether undertaking everyday tours or hatching special seasonal trips to watch the harvest moon or celebrate holiday weekends, instructors make sure that paddlers of all ages and ability levels stay safe and engaged. They also helm fishing trips for anglers aged 15 and older with valid fishing licenses, floating groups to spots where large-mouth bass, pickerel, and panfish lurk like schools of sunken fishing waders. Since the leaders depend on Mother Nature for their livelihood and letters of recommendation, they enforce a carry-in/carry-out practice that ensures guests leave no litter behind.
Still River Outfitters, Inc’s expert guides lead scenic tours through the Bay State's assortment of rivers and national parks. During kayak adventures, the guides shepherd crews along the Concord, Sudbury, Charles, and Assabet Rivers, pointing out blue-winged teal ducks in Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge and feral battle reenactors grazing in Minute Man National Historic Park. On dry land, guides summon outdoor enthusiasts for hiking and snowshoeing adventures, teaching tour-goers how to navigate the land and properly use hiking equipment. Their trips usually include a snack to keep passengers fueled throughout the excursion or provide a handy toll for bridge trolls.